Eat Like a Pompeian (Pyroclastic Cloud Not Included)
Archeologists have found numerous carbonized loaves of bread within the ruins of ancient Pompeii. Studying them they’ve been able to confidently guess at the basic recipe and process by which they were made.
If you’d like to try out a loaf of Roman bread circa 79 CE, experimental archeologist Farrell Monaco has reversed engineered the recipe.
Panis Quadratus also showed evidence of a band wrapped around the outside of each of the loaves. Most experts still don’t know for certain what ancient bakers used it for, but Monaco believes it likely served two purposes: keeping the pieces from spreading during baking in commercial ovens where space was at a premium, and making it easier for porters or bread hawkers to loop loaves onto poles and carry them around town.
As for the composition of the bread, it was likely made of common wheat and not spelt, as many historians postulate. Monaco posits the bread may even have contained parsley, fennel, poppy seeds, and Roman Coriander in some markets, a testament to the Romans’ sophisticated style of bread-making and adventurous flavor combinations.
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